WikiCED manual

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Being a catalyst for change in an organization.




Contents

[edit] Introduction

This manual is designed to help individuals, working in an organization, find ways to effectively introduce beneficial change, without full “top-down” support (i.e.: management, funders, other power sources). In other words, you may be working in an organization and learn about a better way to do things. Everything from suggesting a composting programme, telecommuting, to using a new web-based communication system. Everyone else is too busy doing things the same way they always have, management has their own long term plans, but you think it's worthwhile to push for your change. This manual can help you.

The requirement for change from within is recognized everywhere. In the business world, it's becoming known as "intrapeneurship." This manual is particularly designed for those involved in Community Economic Development (CED). We're going to use change based on low cost technology as our lens because the spread of the Internet and the ready access to computers have created many opportunities; however, aspects of this manual should be applicable to many circumstances.

Our references include Appreciative Inquiry, an organizational development process designed to engage individuals within an organizational system in its renewal, change and focused performance. We're also going to reference CED approaches, current software development methodologies, and our own experience and opinions.

One of the technologies we'll be focusing on is wiki. Wiki is a Hawaiian word for fast, and the first wiki software was developed to support computer programmers sharing information on the early Web. Wikis allow easy publishing on the Web including editing pages (after learning a few conventions) and can help solve a lot of different problems as a group and when including the public. Currently the most famous wiki is Wikipedia, but many other wikis exist.

We're going to use some characters to talk about implementing change. They are as follows:

  Description Image
Anti-tech Arnie Fax machines are the height of human achievement Anti-tech Arnie picture
Bureaucrat Bev Everything by the book, for the organization! Bureaucrat Bev picture
Busy Betty Bee Everywhere, doing everything with no time to spare. Busy Betty Bee picture
Innovator Irene We can solve this problem with a few simple technological conventions Innovator Irene picture
Iron-fisted RARRRR Thor It's simple. My way or the highway! Iron-fisted RARRRR Thor picture
Mélanie Hughes
Whiny Negate No No Nancy Whiny Negate No No Whiny Negate No No Nancy picture

[edit] Considerations for introducing technology change

Many people dream about being a change hero, making one suggestion – like Rosa Parks[1], African American civil rights activist whom the U.S. Congress later called "Mother of the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement did in 1955 when she refused to obey a bus driver's orders - and suddenly we have a successful transformation that everyone recognizes. The reality is usually far more complicated.

People have very good reasons to be hesitant about change. It's always a good idea to wait and see what other organizations similar to yours, are doing. If you're going to try to leap ahead, make sure you have solid partners and that you are not compromising the organization (i.e.: changing the organization's focus or making participation more difficult for some).

Computer systems can yield tremendous efficiencies but they can also force people to work in ways that may be difficult to adapt to. There's always a question of individuals adapting to technology (tech) versus the tech adapting to the person. Good technology will consider the user experience and impact just as important as the potential gain. This can be recognized by learning about successful uses of the technology and the kind of background and processes that went into its development. Many companies and projects (potential components of your innovation) are very technically driven. Whatever clever “invention” a technical person managed to come up with becomes the focus. This may be a good model for ultra competitive commercial enterprise but it's not so good for social organizations. Signs of a good service provider are multidisciplinary teams that include, where practical, designers, content experts, and end user representation, as well as those focusing only on the technology (hopefully with some interest in the context).

Ultimately, however, individuals and the organization will have to adapt to the way the technology works. No technology is completely flexible so with past procurement and training some processes will need to be changed, information constrained to a system, and systems interfaced. As an individual, you'll have to consider how your innovation can be integrated (or not - loosely coupled system are often considered the most robust).

For example, consider the idea of organizing information. Today, it takes weeks for an information request to be processed by the city, and what you'll get is a photocopy of a document that can't be easily re-used. Many organizations have incredible struggles classifying and describing information (developing ontologies). If an organization has thousands of documents, relevant content can be more easily found in a well designed system, and individuals can serve themselves. International organizations using shared ontologies can match documents and develop sophisticated linked systems that allow consistent communications and access to information. Yet defining and restraining content to ontologies perfectly is a problem that has existed for thousands of years due to differences in individual and cultural perceptions. It's best not to get caught up in these kinds of "wild goose chases" unless it's a core requirement and the expertise or cues are available.

Proposing your organization prioritize developing ontologies is a task that would likely be difficult. However, suggesting your organization import key documents into a wiki, and allow "crowd sourcing" (participatory) classifying of documents, as people access and find them, can be very effective.

Sometimes, change can mean completely changing the way things are (i.e.: replacing factory workers with machines) but it's often better to think of augmentation of people's roles particularly when it comes to today's imperfect computer systems. In a clinic, a new system can cause patient harm if a system loses a record but having a receptionist who recognizes patients and expects events can lead to a richer system that is safe and personal and has added utility.

[edit] Side effect benefits

As new systems are implemented, organizations should be aware of the unexpected positive benefits. We're going to examine this with the cut curb effect.

When looking at technical implementations today, there is an "artificial line that views such technologies as assistive rather than normal options; products are designed for or against certain users." (http://asyourworldchanges.wordpress.com/2008/10/06/using-the-curb-cuts-principle-to-reboot-computing/)

As many are aware, navigating the world as a person with disabilities often results in frustration or complete denial to everyday services. Resolving these problems yields unexpected benefits. When a curb is cut for wheelchairs, navigation is also made easier for those with baby strollers, bicycles (where permitted), and inattentive walkers. The same is true of ramps and elevators - making a change for disabled persons improves the situation for everyone. This leads to a shift in thinking towards wp:universal design - the idea that instead of treating accessible design as an afterthought it is a way to lead overall design. This provides benefits including greater access to employment, education, culture, citizenship, and information in general.

Using technology, this is enabled by the fact that most information is stored in one way or another in text format. Email is text and most organization content has a text basis. The low level format of Web pages is HTML, which accommodates accessible features. Suddenly, individuals with mobility, cognitive or vision disabilities (estimated to be 650 million people around the world, or one in seven Canadians - not including the elderly) are on a more equal footing with everyone else - they're tremendously enabled.

Consider a well implemented Web page: behind the scenes, presentation is separated from content; headings are used to indicate sections; and multimedia content has a text summary. A person with vision disabilities, whether it's very common colour blindness, contrast problems, or acute focus problems, can use a variety of techniques to access this information. They can change the font size in their browser, they can replace colours. They can use a screen reader, which reads the document using text to speech, treats headings as a table of contents, and allows the individual to easily scan the page rather than forcing them to "read" it top to bottom.

This carries over to everyone - someone with a large screen or small screen (like the increasingly popular mobile browsers) can reasonably access well designed content. The work that goes into producing this page usually leads to easier information re-use and presentation flexibility.

This is not true for poorly designed content. Individuals have few ways to alter presentation. Users of screen readers have to wait through long passages of repetitive "content" that describes useless elements - the presentation, rather than the content. Mobile browsers and older computers may not be able to access the content at all.

There are no mysteries involved in why this happens. People like "Flashier" content, and companies will often hire designers specifically to create "sexy" first impressions, meanwhile using outdated or unrounded approaches to low level design. It's important to look past first impressions to make sure your content works well for everyone and that it is future friendly. WCAG is an international standard for accessible web page design.


Other potential side effect benefits include better organization of information, access to technology development funds, and transferred best practices.

[edit] Side effect risks

The most important risk to consider when implementing technology is privacy. Collecting masses of personal information in one place presents an incredible risk if not managed carefully. Policies and training for any individuals with access to this data must ensure it is kept off networks as much as possible and always encrypted when not possible.

The second risk is around "intellectual property." It is an unfortunate fact that many organizations, including public and social organizations, create "proprietary databases" featured in grant applications and for other purposes. This results in silos that can be developed using public funds for social benefit and yet are territorially protected from re-use. The benefits of protecting this "property" versus the benefits of sharing or building on information with other organizations must be managed legally, and using technical means, particularly considering cases where information may be published without clear terms of use.

The times are changing. Governments have a mandate to provide more low level access to information, and semantic content, shared methodologies and metrics, and more sophisticated programs that enable very high level information of re-use across organizations.

As an example, in 2004 for a project, detailed information on Member of Parliament voting records was required. After research, it turned out the easiest way to retrieve this information was to "scrape" it from the Parliament web site. In 2009, faced with a similar requirement, we prepared to "scrape" it again, but a last second email to the Parliament Web team yielded all the information we needed in an easily reusable format. A week later Parliament formally announced public availability of this data. (http://www.boingboing.net/2009/04/17/canadian-members-of.html) This follows trends in the US and UK that yield very real benefits in transparency and accountability.

Developments to consider in this area include Creative Commons, a system where organizations may choose from a set of legally designed terms of use that include reuse-by-attribution, reuse-for-noncommercial-only, and other combinations. This document is released under a creative commons attribution, non commercial, share-alike license, meaning it can be re-used and redeveloped for any non-commercial purpose, as long as changes are shared.

A third risk is content lock in. Over time, governments, large business, and organizations have pushed for the need for standard formats for data. This prevents over-reliance on a vendor and permits information re-use. If your information is hosted, make sure you have local copies of readable data.

[edit] Guidelines for content

In general, the following guidelines can be followed:

Context Application Result Issues
Personal, work group - information is not published online, is kept personally or exchanged via email. Word processor Individuals and groups are used to using tools such as MS Word, and they provide easy facilities to create formatted data If the content is going to be re-used in other contexts, it may be more difficult to translate the content with full support for formatting and meaning
Intranet - information is intended for a restricted group, often using passwords. Portal, wiki, Google Documents and other web-based systems With a little extra effort and occasional loss in particular features, individuals can more easily share information and edit it real time as a group Information has to be carefully protected if it's not intended for the general public
Public - anyone can access the content, and sometimes contribute to its development Web site, CMS, wiki supporting accessible HTML content. PDF for downloadable content not meant to be editable Information is easily shared with the public, fully including individuals with disabilities, and supporting a broad array of access methods, including mobile devices Until standards catch up (particularly the forthcoming HTML 5), techniques such as Flash are used for highly interactive tools

Many organizations rely on tools such as Microsoft Word. It's worth keeping in mind that this is expensive software with particular computer requirements. Although compatible free alternatives such as Open Office exist, complete compatibility can't be assured as new versions emerge. For the Web, HTML or PDF are the standard options for read-only document publishing.

Tools for evaluating Web site quality are http://wave.webaim.org and http://validator.w3.org/.

[edit] How to introduce change

Often, creating value requires significant change. John Kotter concluded in his book "A force for Change: How Leadership Differs from Management" (1990) that there are eight reasons why many change processes fail. To prevent making these mistakes, Kotter created the following eight change phases model:

  • Establish a sense of urgency
  • Create a coalition
  • Develop a clear vision
  • Share the vision
  • Empower people to clear obstacles
  • Secure short-term wins
  • Consolidate and keep moving
  • Anchor the change

Individuals who want to introduce or lead change in organizations are key agents who should have the ability to connect people to their specific requirements, and must be committed to working with people during each developmental phase.

APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY: From a post-modern or participatory democratic perspective, Gervase R. Bushe, observed in his article "When is Appreciative Inquiry Transformational" (2005) that there are two key characteristics of AI change interventions that succeed:

  • New knowledge is created
  • A generative metaphor emerges

David Cooperrider and Diane Whitney describe in their article "A Positive Revolution in Change" that change results from an Appreciative Inquiry focus on five key principles:

The constructionist principle Organizations are socially co-constructed realities; therefore, articulate desirable collective futures.
The principle of simultaneity The first question is fateful; change begins the second the system begins to engage in inquiry.
The poetic principle We create our organization in our daily stories; therefore, use words that energize and inspire people.
The anticipatory principle The collective image of the future guides us; therefore, artfully create positive images.
The positive principle Craft the unconditional positive question to generate momentum and sustainable change.


[edit] Explaining and developing the project

Except in the simplest cases, one of the most difficult parts of developing a project is explaining it so everyone understands it. Many people (often most) will either assume someone else is taking care of details, or will imagine what the system will be like rather than trying to follow along. Confusion and disappointment inevitably follow.

It's difficult to tune the balance between too much documentation and too little for each individual. The best approach is to use examples and capture key expectations of all stakeholders, and make sure everyone involved has a chance to participate.

Processes can start open ended, for example using wp:open spaces to discover what stakeholders consider the most valuable features, and should become more specific but still inclusive, using techniques such as wp:participatory design.

When using the APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY wp:5-D model, the most valuable feature is identified in the wp:definition phase before proceeding to the wp:discovery phase assumes.

Stakeholders include the following:

  • Management, funders, connectors: They may have a high level vision and power, but if they don't try to follow the project and provide constant feedback, the result won't be as expected, or will result in wrenching course changes.
  • Project team: This may include a project manager, key individuals who will be using the developed system, and implementers including system administrators, graphic and page designers, programmers, and others. Multidisciplinary teams that can work efficiently and with respect, and check in often with full communication of what they're working on, are key.
  • User representation: These should provide a fair representation of the intended users of the system, whether organization members or the served constituents. Activities can range from participation in wp:focus groups, formal or informal wp:usability sessions, or polling advocacy groups.

Using systems like wiki can enable direct involvement in specification development for all the above.

[edit] Including the hesitant

Inevitably there will be some on the team who can following along. Whatever the reason, it's important to include these individuals by soliciting their comments and accommodating them wherever possible. However, some degree of “translation” will often be required. If the hesitant are served constituents, full services must be maintained with the technology based implementation as an alternative, depending on the constituency. Summaries should always be maintained between "online" and "offline" activities.

Service bureaus may help here, including low cost translation and transcription services, and services to provide telephone access to computerized services.

Let's take a look at the characteristics of our players, and how we might include them:

  Image Characteristics
Anti-tech Arnie Anti-tech Arnie picture * believes that technological advancement is a synonym of dehumanization
  • resists technological advances
  • feels good in a familiar environment
  • doesn’t know technology and can’t imagine its uses and benefits for himself
  • believes technology is too complicated
  • change might result in a situation where he needs to readjust and where he will lose control over his environment
  • can be convinced if change is presented in a way he will realize it is not so complicated and that he can have some benefits
Bureaucrat Bev Bureaucrat Bev picture * is very organized and structured
  • likes when things fit in a frame, are systemized
  • lacks creativity and autonomy from the administration of her organization
  • change can mean disorder to her
  • believes the use of rules, regulations, and formal authority guide performance
  • will adopt change more easily when it is a top-down approach
  • can be convinced if change is presented to her as if it will be part of her existing system, that it will have “rules” regulating it
Busy Betty Bee Busy Betty Bee picture *has a very full agenda; likes to have busy schedules
  • believes what she is involved with to be the most important things
  • wants change to be simple and easy to implement because she has not time to lose over adapting to a new situation
  • change and new ideas must be presented has if they were ready to be implemented
  • actively engaged in work, often zealous
  • has difficulty understanding the benefits of change because she doesn’t even have time to realize a changing situation is presented to her
  • can be convinced if the changes proposed can improve her ability to do things, to lighten her agenda (so she can take on more tasks!)
Innovator Irene Innovator Irene picture *wants to bring change within an organization
  • self-motivated, curious, dedicated and interested in new ideas that can increase efficiency and improve the work environment
  • believes work is a multidimensional environment where every aspects are connected and intertwined
  • is creative and tries to find ways to convince colleagues to buy in
  • needs to manage expectations and include as many people as possible
Iron-fisted RARRRR Thor Iron-fisted RARRRR Thor picture *has a firm view of things, he is hard to convince, is close-minded
  • believes he has the right way of doing things and even thinking
  • will not change his positions unless he is shown it can have benefits for him
  • will adopt change in his own way
Mélanie Hughes
Whiny Negate No No Nancy Whiny Negate No No Nancy picture *likes complaining and being negative about change and life in general
  • doesn’t know how to articulate her opinions, thoughts
  • feels like everything is complicated, useless or unimportant
  • expresses her fear of change by whining
  • can be convinced of adopting a change if we find answers to her complaining or find the incoherence in her whining discourse

[edit] Change processes and development

In the past, a development process referred to as "waterfall" was often used in software development. A long specification process was supposed to lead to a shorter, more informed development process. However, with specialists doing specification no one could understand, many projects went overtime and budget (or failed outright).

Development process today has shifted more towards a process referred to as wp:Agile software development. Initially, basic examples and prototypes are used to describe the project, and multiple cycles of development, called "iterations," that ideally involved all involved persons, are used to make sure everyone sees the product, and has a chance to comment on it, before another revision cycle. This also allows constant revision of a product.

CED literature describes similar processes based on Knowing, Doing and Reviewing (Torjman, 2007).

Therefore, a preferred development cycle for a project may appear as follows:

  1. describe key goal (including baselines and measurements), critical budget and timing issues
  2. define and refine goal(s)
  3. research solutions and select working set
  4. refine goals based on working set
  5. implement solutions (with as many iterations as permitted)
  6. measure effectiveness through soft or full launch
  7. summarize effects
  8. iterate

It's important to contain each process. Keep timelines short and easy to measure. Avoid custom solutions unless they are absolutely necessary (for example, where accessible software does not exist) - specification uncertainty and usability testing results in more cost and risk.

Modern software practices also provide access to all team members to project tracking, and today Wiki based systems can be used to measure goals, tasks, timelines, responsible persons and even costs.

[edit] Technology as a solution

Today's typical computer use is often as an advanced typewriter. Documents are edited, saved and printed with little use of program features. Nobody thinks twice about printing out a form from a computer system, filling it out by hand, mailing it somewhere, and having it entered by hand into a computer system. Features such as inline document comments are being used, but few organizations use document sharing portals or online document editing systems such as wikis.

Today there is an emphasis on providing basic reading and math, and some training on how to use a computer, but little consideration for "numeracy" (http://blog.jonudell.net/2008/11/18/visual-numeracy-for-collective-survival/). This is not about advanced math or technical skills. This is learning to use the computer as a helpful tool, and as part of a network. In fact this training is being bestowed on individuals anyway. Spam teaches individuals to not trust all information, Facebook and other sites teaches individuals how to effectively use social media - for advocacy from topics ranging from breastfeeding, unions, regional and international concerns, groups, events and other interactions - without any strong technical basis.

The fastest growing demographic on Facebook is women over 55. (http://www.scottmonty.com/2009/07/facebook-age-demographics.html - July 2009 data). While the largest component of Internet users today (and the major focus) can be considered "advantaged," a considerable and increasing number of individuals have disabilities, are newcomers to the countries using the Internet as an inexpensive way to stay in touch, are elderly, or are organizing social causes or events, among other relevant demographics.

The digital divide is still a tremendous issue. However, proportionately, computer use among populations, whether directly through access to the Internet, using a mobile phone, or through community hubs, is comparable to other important segments of many communities.

[edit] Consider where it is coming from

We think of the technology we use today as new, but it has been evolving for a long time. wp:Hypertext, for example – a way to create links between documents – was visualized in a microfiche based system in the 1940s (the wp:Memex). There are large cycles of introduction, reaction, revision. The entire Internet as a mass novelty, in the 1990s, resulted in the wp:Dot-com bubble Dot-com bubble shortly thereafter, as overexcited expectations were deflated.

The Internet does have to be considered one of the greatest, and most unexpected innovations of our lifetimes. No company would have created a network where anyone can publish and access information with equal ease and virtually no cost, for nearly anyone, around the world (nor could they, due to the cooperation involved). Existing companies, with their controlled, limited and metered systems, were left scrambling to react to this disruptive development.

The internet is the product of generations of scientists, visionaries, and implementers, now available for anyone to use, at the price of stepping into a limelight, encrypted or not, and taking on complexity. Using technology effectively has not been simplified. Tremendous effort can be spent putting up a web site, developing content or custom applications, training people, connecting with companies and dealing with problems, all to see minimal net benefits. This is another reason it is important to highlight the background reasons for technology to be developed and used.

It's important to have a long term plan that matches the organization's mandate and constituents, day to day changes consistent with your constituents, all the while keeping an eye out for 'disruptive' opportunities.

Eve Sibley, founder of WorldFoodGarden.org, writes:

I was just a lone artist/activist with a tiny bit of money to spare when I got into this a year and a half ago. I saw the potential of using the ever-growing internet to help more people sustainably grow their own food, so I invested that money into hiring somebody to build a website towards those ends. My biggest hurdle has been that I didnt know anything about website languages or databases or anything technical when I got in, just had a vision that included "a website." So basically what happened was I expended all of my funds on a site written in (proprietary software) which no one really wants to update because of the language, so now we are having to start over in a lot of ways by forming a volunteer development team that believes in the cause and wants to make the site move forward. Long story short - the empowerment of the individual that is happening through internet technology gave me (an individual) permission to try use it to change the world, but there are soo many different technical options that the mission almost drowned in that sea. In one light it is a funding issue, but in another its that the accelerated advancement of IT is just really hard to keep up with if you aren't trained to know what is what.


Marshall McLuhan states “We shape our tools, and afterwards our tools shape us.” New systems must be considered for their most simple and practical benefits, as well as their impact. Expectations must be managed to not expect too much out of the hype, yet still "expect the unexpected."

For example, Twitter, a current craze, is presented in the media as a way to follow celebrities, or sent brief messages about our most mundane activities. But using Twitter as a "social search" - finding individuals currently available and interested in topics important to you (including activism, fundraising, regional and sectoral issues) opens up a whole new dimension. Some organizations use Twitter (and other "social media" like the more popular Facebook) as a tool for advocacy and fundraising. Searching for your organization's interests online can easily connect you to a potential vibrant, relevant network.

[edit] Technology applications

There are a number of main applications of technology in social organizations. They range from the most practical document creating, simple, communications using email, narrow and broadcast communication and participatory means such as forums, polls and wikis.

The internet went through several phases of “killer applications,” as the world population happened across its capabilities. Majorly are the ease and (no) cost sending of email and the richness of the World Wide Web, which was originally envisioned as an intimately linked, eminently re-usable “read-write” research web, where one web site's information can be linked with another, and information shared easily. Unfortunately, commercial and individual enthusiasm (and the unreadiness of the background technology) has resulted in many messes – email can be unusable due to “spam,” and most web sites today could be easier to use as a paper brochure, and they certainly don't encourage information re-use. Tragically, universal, re-usable design has been thrown out the window in many cases in favour of glitzy presentations.

For the past few years, there has been a focus on what's called "Web 2.0" - making Web based systems more interactive, participatory. There is also a trend to move away from desktop and office solutions to hosted systems - email, word processing, and so on, are hosted on a "cloud" provided by very large providers such as Google and Amazon. The benefits are simplified management and costs to the best standards. One inexpensive bill includes an organization's email, calendaring, group discussions, document editing, web site hosting and backup - each of which can be complicated to manage on its own. The drawbacks are massive consolidation of data, data sovereignty issues, and an implied requirement for local internet service providers to drastically upgrade their standards to compete with the best in the world.

The next trend ("Web 3.0") is anticipated to focus on the Semantic Web. This means richer exchange of information, leading to more re-use and better searching.

We focus on wiki because it promotes one of the original ideas of the Web, easy participation, and newer developments promote easier exchange of information – for example, using another organization's data in your Web site using systems such as Semantic Mediawiki.

[edit] Technology use in the non-profit sector

In considering technology use in the non-profit sector, "three major "themes" seemed to emerge: the perceived lack of technology in the non-profit sector, the push to "catch up", and the unique strength of the non-profit sector in the information age." (http://www.merrillassociates.net/topic/2001/04/technology-and-non-profits)

todo:reinforce these themes

Often, social organizations who rely on funding will have to tailor their proposals so they appear to follow external mandates. This disconnect can lead to a distortion in implementation where no real goals are reached or can simply lead to wasteful, pointless resources, such as unused computers or websites developed without any real motivation as organizations simply need the overhead funds available in implementation or can't reasonably focus on the benefits.

Ambivalence to adopt new technology can be around concerns of "dehumanization" of an organization, key to the unique strength (the personal trust and connection) of social organizations. It can also be observed that the creative and social uses of technology are portrayed as secondary to the technical (mathematical) and commercial applications, all focused on treating individuals as numbers. Yet social organizations that embrace implementation of technology can help define it as fundamentally useful to their causes, by aligning with trends such as fair use, access and accessibility, and focusing on developing richer profiles of people, peer connections, and organizational interfaces.

Many public and social organizations have a special mandate to consider universal design. Some countries and jurisdictions have policies or even laws mandating accessible design (http://www.w3.org/WAI/Policy/). Yet they are often just as likely as other organizations to say "disabled persons don't use our site" (no wonder why!), or leaving consideration till the end of a project, when resources have run dry.

Finally, technology can help make social services easier to use and understand. From finding the appropriate service in the first place, to accessing its services, means are being developed and improved by government, organizations, and individuals. Where does your organization want to be on the developing social graph?


[edit] Real world projects

themes and concrete results

tools

http://www.frogloop.com/care2blog/2009/5/14/tools-galore-in-online-communications.html

[edit] Connecting and getting advice

In a document entitled Successful Uses of Technology in Grassroots Organization, the Institute for Nonprofit Organization Management (University of San Francisco) proposes a series of recommendations of how to introduce technological change within a small nonprofits organizations;

  • Budget time and money for technology
  • When possible and appropriate, involve end-users (clients and staff) in technology planning and decision making
  • Recruit technological expertise to staff or board
  • Build networks using board, staff and other friends
  • Better utilize online resources for technology expertise

http://www.usfca.edu/inom/research/INOM-Tech%20Use%20in%20Small%20NPs.pdf

[edit] Links and resources

Many online resources exist in support of non profits, technology and combining the two.

Examples include:

... also numerous topic specific groups exist on sites like Facebook.

[edit] Measuring success, learning from failure

From User:Janet's notes:

There can be alternate ways to measure success from a qualitative perspective. Here are my suggestions from an appreciative perspective. Please be aware that I am using this term appreciative freely. The suggested measurements of qualitative evaluation and success in this paper are based on my personal explorations and therefore do not, in any way or form, reflect the principles of Appreciative Inquiry (AI)

Here is a brief description of Appreciative Inquiry (AI). Appreciative Inquiry (AI) assumes that every living system has untapped and accounts of the positive1. Appreciative Inquiry is a methodical discovery that a living system is at its optimum in social, political, economic, ecological, and human terms when it is most vibrant, effective and constructive2. AI seeks to build a transformational union between a people and it's capacities that are achievements, assets, unexplored potentials, innovations, strengths, elevated thoughts, opportunities, benchmarks, and strategic competencies through lived values, traditions, stories, visions, expressions of wisdom spiritual insights, and future possibilities 3. Appreciative Inquiry questions and dialogues to imagine and innovate about successes, hopes, and dreams instead of negating and criticizing downward into a diagnostic spiral of despairing hopelessness4.

In working with small children who are climbing into a dangerous area, instead of saying don't climb there! Re-direct the children with a positive gesture Look!! Play here!

AI's vision based approach and 4-D Model consists of stages of Discovery, Dream, Design and Doing and 4-I Model of Inquire, Imagine, Innovate and Implement 5. The SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Anticipations, and Results) framework for inquiry and decision-making is a compatible AI framework to strategic planning 6. SOAR is integral to developing strong relationships to implement sustainable development practices7. AI's triple bottom line of economic prosperity, environmental stewardship, and social equity or "profit, planet, people." provides a solid framework for measuring and evaluating progress toward a sustainable socio-environmental-economic model with another social construction and metaphor8.

Building evaluation capacity entails developing a system for creating and sustaining evaluation practices9. Evaluation scholars have recommended that evaluation be more democratic, pluralistic, deliberative, empowering, and enlightening10. Current evaluation practices are diverse, inclusive of multiple perspectives, and supportive of the use of multiple methods, measures, and criteria11. Evaluation Appreciative Inquiry is a highly participatory form of inquiry to address issues12. Appreciative Inquiry and collaborative, participatory, stakeholder, and learning-oriented approaches to evaluation emphasize *social constructivism, that is, that making sense and meaning is achieved through the interaction13.

Suggested appreciative success indicators of a vision, design, action, or project can be measured with point systems by examples such as how:

  1. challenging
  2. achievable, adoptable
  3. realistic, solid
  4. integrated, institutionalized
  5. shared
  6. interactive, active and dynamic
  7. empowerment as choices, participation in decisions, dignity, respect, cooperation and a sense of belonging to a wider community
  8. equity as equal opportunity and access to natural, social and economic resources
  9. sustainable in meeting needs without compromising future generations
  10. internalized
  11. thoroughness
  12. thoughtfulness
  13. respectful of oneself, others, the organization, environment
  14. evolving, innovative
  15. reflective of current priorities 14

Suggested appreciative accountability and success can consist of:

  1. reports for recognizing and publicly praising accomplishments;
  2. charts recording relative progress over time
  3. anecdotal stories for publicizing successes
  4. attending to those that make a difference 15

Suggested appreciative accountability reinforces responsibility of individuals:

  1. to define one's working relationship with an organization as a contribution
  2. to acknowledge the impact that the quality of one's work on others
  3. to accept the outcome of one's actions 16

A success story, for example, is Myrada in the year 2000 of an NGO in India for managing rural development organized a network of 11 NGOs, 804 people, 70 different organizations, 500 community- based organizations representing about 10,000 people participating in appreciative inquiry workshops.17 The workshops included self-help affinity groups; self help group federations, teachers associations, watershed development associations, watershed implementation committees, village forest committees, village health committees, children's clubs, local farmers associations, community health groups, and others18. The number and types of committees demonstrates the engaging, implicating and participatory approaches of AI.


[edit] Footnotes

1 - 5: Appreciative Inquiry - http://appreciativeinquiry.case.edu/intro/whatisai.cfm

6 Appreciative Inquiry - http://www.appreciativeinquiry.net.au/

7 Anne T. Coghlan, Hallie Preskill, Tessie Tzavaras Catsambas, An Overview of Appreciative Inquiry in Evaluation, New Directions for Evaulations, no. 100, Winter 2003, Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Weblogs, e-learning at University of British Comlumbia, UBC. http://weblogs.elearning.ubc.ca/mathison/Appreciative%20Inquiry

8 - 12 Appreciative Inquiry - http://www.appreciativeinquiry.net.au/

13 Social constructivism: A social construction or social construct is any phenomenon "invented" or "constructed" by participants in a particular culture or society existing because people agree to behave as if it exists or follow certain conventional rules. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_construction Appreciative Inquiry http://www.appreciativeinquiry.net.au/

14 International Institute for Sustainable Development, Beyond Problem Analysis: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Design and Deliver Environmental, Gender Equity and Private Sector Development Projects, Trip Report 3: July - December, 2000 Kamasamudram, India http://www.iisd.org/ai/myrada_report3.htm

15 GTM Evaluation & Planning, Inc. http://gtmeval.blogspot.com/2008/07/appreciative-accountability.html

16 An Accountability Culture 2006, Washing State University http://wiki.wsu.edu/wsuwiki/Revised_Accountability_Statement

17 - 18 International Institute for Sustainable Development, Beyond Problem Analysis: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Design and Deliver Environmental, Gender Equity and Private Sector Development Projects, Trip Report 3: July - December, 2000 India http://www.iisd.org/ai/myrada_report3.htm

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